Harnett, Johnston County schools among those chosen to be part of COVID-19 rapid testing pilot program

Local News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some school districts in central North Carolina were chosen to be a part of phase one of a pilot program offering free COVID-19 rapid testing.

School districts selected in central North Carolina are Harnett, Johnston and Wilson County schools.

The state is rolling out the program in public schools as more students return to in-person learning.

Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, state health director, and chief medical officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, said North Carolina is receiving about 3.1 million Abbott BinaxNOW antigen tests that were purchased by the federal government.

“We’re not prioritizing them because we feel like it’s a hotbed of transmission but just because in-person learning is so important. It’s such a priority setting for us,” said Dr. Tilson.

Several local health departments were also chosen as part of the program. Those include health departments in Durham, Harnett, Johnston, and Wilson counties.

The test could be available to schools by Dec. 14. Tilson said no schools have been chosen yet to receive the tests, but some districts and local health departments have expressed interest in this kind of program. She said it’s likely tests would start being administered after the holiday break.

“Isolation and quarantine, that will stay the same. We already have protocols for schools if a child is symptomatic or a child tests positive. That’s all the same. This is just going to make it easier to get those test results to implement all those other policies and procedures,” she said.

Schools seeking to participate also will have to outline their process for getting consent from parents and how they will inform them of results.

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